As much as I hate being superficial about fashion and appearance, I am offered better opportunities when I look sharp. People tend to treat me with more respect, I get into places I normally wouldn’t and I tend to fly under the radar.
It always surprises me when people don’t believe that I’ve been travelling for one-and-a-half years on a bike. All the time I get comments like “you don’t look like a traveller”, or “you’re not wearing outdoor clothing”, or “wow, you carry a business shirt with you”.
I’ve even been told I was the only long-term traveller who wasn’t a “dirtbag” when staying at a hostel in Krygyzstan.
This is because I don’t want to look like a traveller. I’m prepared to sacrifice some performance from my clothes in order to fit in a bit better and avoid looking too much like a tourist.
These tips are a guide for what types of clothes will keep you looking smart and fly you under the radar…
1. Carry Casual, Understated Clothes
Bring the stuff you would wear at home. Keep your clothes plain, classic, simple, form fitting and with preferably no brand names. Items like long-sleeve travel shirts, a pair of jeans and a nice jumper will give you much more of a casual look.
2. Avoid Technical Gear Where You Can – Especially With Colour
I LOVE colourful technical gear, but there is a time and place for red goretex jackets and khaki zip-off pants. Steer clear from colours or designs and try dark technical gear with simple patterns if you really have to have it. My clothing company list of techwear manufacturers should have you covered with the best understated gear available.
3. Carry A Plain Travel Shirt or Dress Top
Shirts are smart – you never know when you’ll need them. I’ve ended up as a guest in the Chief of Tourism’s office in Korea, at 5 star hotels in Japan and in expensive restaurants with the movers and shakers of society.
I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty uncomfortable in these places when I’m not dressed sharply.
4. Update Your Clothes Every Six Months
When you wear the same clothes day in, day out for six months, they start to look shabby. You’ll find problems such as loss of colour, holes and pilling. That is why I try to organise a fresh set of clothes every six months. It doesn’t have to be brand new stuff, you might be able to get a friend to send you a few items from home or pick up some second-hand clothes in better condition.
5. Keep Your Clothes Clean
It’s fine to wear your clothes for a few days, but after that it needs a wash. If you’re riding through areas without access to a washing machine, hand wash everything in hotels or in public toilets. I often take my clothes into the shower, and wash them on my body.
6. Ride With Baggy Cycling Shorts and Tees on the Bike
There is no better way to stand out than in full lycra. I try to look a bit more casual by wearing plain tees and baggy shorts over my lycra while I ride.
7. Avoid Sporty Attire such as Running Shoes and Sports Pants
Sporty clothes are great for travel, but they make you stick out. I suggest wearing slightly less practical clothes for the sake of looking a bit smarter. Leave the track pants at home and consider wearing jeans/slacks, and pick up a pair of casual shoes with some tread, instead of running shoes. Here is a list of stylish SPD casual shoes to choose from.
My Clothing Pack List
It’s completely dependant on region, but this is what I have right now:
2x travel shirts
1x rain jacket
1x swimming shorts
1x down jacket
The Following Companies Make Expensive Techwear I Like…
To read my complete list of stylish clothing manufacturers – click HERE.
Chrome – rain jackets, jumpers, tees
Giro – rain jackets, softshells, shorts, tees, shirts
Levi’s – jeans, shorts, shirts
Makers and Riders – softshells, pants, jackets, tees
Mission Workshop – rain jackets, jumpers, pants
Outlier – jumpers, shirts, tees, shorts, pants
Rapha – rain jackets, softshells, jackets, shirts, tees, shorts, pants
Swrve – rain jackets, jumpers, tees, shorts, jeans
Other Outdoor / Techwear:
Columbia – rain jackets, shirts, jumpers
Endless Ammo – jackets, shirts, pants
Macpac – down jackets, jumpers
Nau – rain jackets, jumpers, pants, shirts
Nike – fleece jumpers, rain jackets
North Face – rain jackets, shirts, jumpers
Triple Aught Design – jackets, pants, shorts
Super Expensive / Designer: